Slaphappy belly up
As we watched the energetic fluke slapping of this young whale the name 'Slaphappy' was an obvious choice.
When sighted at 2.45 pm on the afternoon of the 23rd August 1995, Slaphappy was alone with no other whales in sight. The vigorous tail-slapping attracted our attention. As we watched from a distance she would slap her tail down onto the water three or four times and then with a great splash rollover. She would alternate between lying on her back or on her belly tail-slapping.

We had stopped the ship on sighting her and slowly she moved in a wide arc coming closer to the expedition vessel. From her size and body condition we assessed that she was a sub-adult. As she came alongside ship, still tail-slapping vigorously, we were able to confirm with a photograph that she was indeed a female.

Slaphappy's Underfluke (Click photo to enlarge) Slaphappy's under fluke Slaphappy's Upper Fluke
Slaphappy's upper fluke
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(Above) In this sequence of photographs Slaphappy is on her belly strongly slapping her fluke downward and then with a powerful twist and a mighty splash, rolling over. We wondered what was the cause of this curious behaviour? As she approached the ship our question was answered!
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Slaphappy was playing with Bottlenose Dolphins! As she swam directly at the Expedition vessel Trish snapped a close up of one of the dolphins riding on the bow wave created ahead of the moving whale and then caught a close up of Slaphappy's dorsal as she slid under the ship. For a closer look at the dolphins with Slaphappy click the lower left photograph.

While belly up close to the vessel we were able to confirm Slaphappy is a female. Its not unusual to find young sub-adult whales, both male and female, spending time alone in Hervey Bay. It may be that only recently seperated from their mothers they are exploring the world alone for the first time. However other members of thier group will be nearby so they are not really alone and they will rejoin the group for the migration south before they leave the relative safety of the bay.

Slaphappy with Bottlenose Dolphins (Click photo to enlarge)
A bottlenose dolphin can be seen clearly ahead of Slaphappy and to the right and if you look closely there is a second dolphin beside her.
Slaphappy's left dorsalThis photo of Slaphappy's left hand dorsal fin and lateral body, together with the under fluke photos, will help us recognise her in the future. Slaphappy waves bye byeAs she was leaving Slaphappy gave one final slap of her pectoral fin as if waving good-bye.
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Sandy Rosenberg, Nicki Ritchie, Trevor Watson, David Littlejohn, Albertine Clauzing, Isao Toyama, John Don, Mrs Nereus Cowasjee, Susan Hansen, Krystina Combs, Michelle Neilsen, Stephen Kho, Phyll & Tony Bartram, Amanda & Brent Milne, Terry Wise.

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